The Los Angeles Zoo is full of proud parents these days.
The baby bonanza began on April 5 with the birth of a male Masai giraffe. He is currently in the giraffe habitat with his parents, Neema and Artimus.
On May 5, twin Tadjik markhors, a brother and sister, were born. Within a month, the twins were joined by a second set of markhors, also a male and female, born on May 29. Visitors can see these boisterous markhors, an endangered species of wild goat native to Asia, alongside their parents in the markhor exhibit.
Then on May 19, the zoo welcomed the birth of a male central Chinese goral, a type of endangered goat native to the steep slopes of the east-central China mountains. In the wild, gorals do not have to compete with fellow ungulates (hooved mammals), because gorals can navigate and survive in areas that are unsuitable for most other ungulates.
Also on May 19, two female red river hogs were born. Red river hogs, one of the smallest species of pigs, hail from sub-Saharan Africa. The red river hog is often described as the prettiest of the "wild swine," with red hair, a black and white facemask and a white mane reaching from neck to tail. Visitors can see the rambunctious piglets at the zoo's nursery.
On May 25, a greater flamingo chick was born. Less than a month later, on June 16, the chick was joined by a second. The greater flamingo is the largest of the six species of flamingo. This species is found in freshwater and saline habitats throughout parts of southern Europe, Africa and southern Asia. The chicks are on exhibit in the zoo's aviary.
On June 4, a male gerenuk was born. Gerenuk, a medium sized gazelle whose name means "giraffe-necked" in Somali, are native to East Africa.
Two babirusa, one male and one female, were born on June 15. Babirusa, a subspecies of the pig family, live on the Sulawesi, Togian and Baru Islands of Indonesia. The natives say that the tusks are like the antlers of a deer, hence the name babirusa, which means "hog-deer" in Malay.
Rounding out the June births was the birth of a female Japanese serow on June 20. Japanese serows, a species of goat, roam the mountain forests of Japan. In 1955, serows were declared a "Special Natural Monument," which gives them complete protection against hunting and capture. The gracious climbers can be found in their zoo habitat along the perimeter road.
A first for the L.A. Zoo is the birth of a female Sichuan takin, born on July 3. Takins belong to a group of animals called goat-antelope. This group also includes domestic sheep and goats. In China, takin share a mountain habitat with the giant panda, which has proven beneficial for the takin's preservation.
But wait. There's more.
Seven newborn rock hyraxes are running around and exploring the exhibit they share with their parents. The first litter of four hyraxes was born on July 11, and a day later, on July 12, three more babies followed suit. Although the hyrax has a rodent-like appearance, their DNA proves that they are the closest living relative to the largest land mammal, the elephant.
The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the 134 and 5 freeways. Admission is $13 for adults and $8 for children (ages 2 to 12). The Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For information, call 323-644-4200 or visit www.lazoo.org.